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Monday, January 9, 2012

PIT Airport Connector Trail FTW

01/09/12 #241 23m

Rode 23 miles (23.49 but a rule's a rule!) in 43F on Montour Trail. Started at Boggs Trailhead, rode west to MP13, then started the GPS recorder and reversed to ride east to the PIT airport via the Montour Trail Airport Connector.

The trail surface varied with the terrain, the shade, and drainage; in turns it was soft, wet, snowy, and icy. It was all good, it seemed rideable without doing any damage, but where it's soft it's difficult to maintain much speed up-slope. (How's that for a fine whine?)

I really appreciate the new trail gate at MP9.3ish, replacing a one-way gate with a two-way gate. Exited the limestone trail at Enlow to ride on shared-road to the airport property. At the end of the public road there are two airport gates, and the Montour Trail continues via the left-hand gate.

At one point, the trail exits the airport property for a quiet residential street, and then the route turns right (and uphill) onto Clinton Road, which seems like the rehabilitated descendant of old Moon-Clinton Road. The road is not perfect, it's steep, the cars are pretty fast, and the shoulder is sketchy in some places - and it's wonderful to have it.

Crossing I376 you come upon a small parking area habituated by people looking for a place to loiter until it's time to pick up an arriving passenger at the terminal. In the future this may be a popular trailhead for Beaver County folks looking to get on the Montour Trail.

The route continues through a smallish individual-sized gate, apparently called a "man-gate" but that's too close to both "main gate" and "man-date" for my comfort zone. Once through the gate it's back on joint-use airport service roads, and they are indeed joint-use; every weekday I've been out there I've shared the road with airport vehicles, and the crews have been very friendly.

As the route crosses the airport public roads there are buttons to activate blinking lights to facilitate the crossing. The approaching cars are doing 55 mph here, IMHO using the lights is a good idea. I may (or may not) have learned this through experience.

Crossing into the parking lots I was very impressed at how well marked the route to the terminal is. There are signs on poles and there are painted directions on the road surface, and they're excellent.

The route ends at a bike rack at the western end of the moving walkway. It was really a treat to get to ride all the way to the terminal for the first time. I did venture in to the moving walkway area, just to see what's there. There's nothing there (water fountain, pay phone) except a heater vent which was quite welcome. I don't think the airport's WiFi extends out to the moving walkway.

If you lock your bike, it's an easy trip to either the airport hotel lobby (I'm thinking fruit, coffee, newspapers) or the terminal building (rest rooms, pastries, hot chocolate).

On the way out, from the terminal back to Boggs, the signage was just as thorough as on the way in. I encountered a local track team running on the Airport Connector, more people taking advantage of the unseasonably nice weather.

There were several walkers, dog-walkers, and runners out on the trail. I didn't see any other bicyclists until I was putting my bike on my car-rack at Boggs, when I saw a young meshie with a fishing pole riding out for an adventure.

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